The Barna Group faith and culture research organization has published its 2017 list of most post-Christian cities in America. Barna said that the “influence of Christianity in America is waning” and that the role of religion and church in public life is fading.
The group has tried to measure this change in American belief. It has created what it calls the “post-Christian metric” where individuals have to meet nine out of 16 criteria to qualify as post-Christian.
Barna feels that this set of metrics more accurately addresses the beliefs of respondents because it is based on actual practice as opposed to vague affiliation with a given faith. The organization claims that this form of measurement gives a clearer picture of belief versus unbelief.
Do not believe in God
Identify as atheist or agnostic
Disagree that faith is important in their lives
Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
Have never made a commitment to Jesus
Disagree the Bible is accurate
Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
Agree that Jesus committed sins
Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
Have not attended Sunday / Sabbath school (in the last week)
Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
Not Born Again
In reflecting on the survey’s “post-Christian metric” I have to ask the question: By our practices are we what would be considered a “Post Christian”? That would mean that we identified with 9 out of the 16 criteria, and 13 out of 16 would earn us a “highly post-Christian” qualification.
But more important what does it mean for our Christian walk if we identify with 8, 7, or 6 of the criteria? How much fading can we live with and still be a “solid” Christian – 1, 2, 3? Or is being a “solid Christian” even expected? Is watered-down well enough?
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. – Matthew 16:24-25 NASB
I suspect, after reading the list and highlighting 8 of the criteria that I have seen many consistently struggling with in the church as regular members, that there are a lot of us who would fit snugly in what I would term “Almost Post-Christianity”.
Another point of reflection for my fellow pastors – are we running a “Almost Post-Christian Fellowship?